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Corporate counsel, Target Corp.

Up & Coming: Robert Fenlon

Robert Fenlon

Robert Fenlon

Corporate counsel, Target Corp.

It’s all about the deal for Bob Fenlon. Not one to be fascinated by the inner workings of statutes or crafting a brief, Fenlon prefers to negotiate and forge agreements that leave both parties happy. As corporate counsel for real estate at Target, Fenlon enjoys sealing deals that meet the company’s business strategies and set Target up for success.

“I have a passion for negotiation and an ability to see things from the other side’s point of view,” says Fenlon, who spent hours as a kid negotiating baseball card trades with friends. “I like to come up with creative solutions to make sure all parties arrive at a fair and workable deal.”

After clerking in Target’s legal department during law school at William Mitchell, Fenlon gained five years of private practice experience at Leonard, Street and Deinard in Minneapolis. He mainly worked on real estate matters and mergers and acquisitions. Eventually, Target became one of Fenlon’s largest clients, and he started taking on more of its new store development legal work.

Two years ago, Fenlon went in-house at Target. His job involves working out the finer points of development documents, including agreements for land acquisition, site development, construction and operation. Fenlon also handles legal issues that arise if public funding supports development that includes a Target store.

“What makes me even better at my job [as in-house counsel] is being able to get an in-depth understanding of my clients’ business strategy and objectives, which helps when trying to make decisions during a negotiation,” Fenlon notes.

He oversees Target’s Northeast region real estate development, including its big growth markets of Washington, D.C., Boston, and New York. As Target prepared to expand into Canada this year, Fenlon worked on finding office space for executives and developing Target’s distribution network, including off-site warehouses.

In all, it’s a gratifying job for Fenlon, who enjoys knowing that his legal work ultimately generates something tangible. He adds, “The end product of all my work is a new Target store that’s up and running, and that’s pretty cool.”

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